September 13: John Chrysostom; Bishop of Constantinople, 407

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About this commemoration

John Chrysostom, Patriarch of Constantinople, is one of the great saints of the Eastern Church. He was born about 354 in Antioch, Syria. As a young man, he responded to the call of desert monasticism until his health was impaired. He returned to Antioch after six years, and was ordained a presbyter. In 397, he became Patriarch of Constantinople. His episcopate was short and tumultuous. Many criticized his ascetical life in the episcopal residence, and he incurred the wrath of the Empress Eudoxia, who believed that he had called her a “Jezebel.” He was twice exiled, and he died during the second period of banishment, on September 14, 407. Thirty-one years later, his remains were brought back to Constantinople, and buried on January 27.

John, called “Chrysostom,” which means “the golden-mouthed, ”was one of the greatest preachers in the history of the Church. People flocked to hear him. His eloquence was accompanied by an acute sensitivity to the needs of people. He saw preaching as an integral part of pastoral care, and as a medium of teaching. He warned that if a priest had no talent for preaching the Word, the souls of those in his charge “will fare no better than ships tossed in the storm.”

His sermons provide insights into the liturgy of the Church, and especially into eucharistic practices. He describes the liturgy as a glorious experience, in which all of heaven and earth join. His sermons emphasize the importance of lay participation in the Eucharist. “Why do you marvel,” he wrote, “that the people anywhere utter anything with the priest at the altar, when in fact they join with the Cherubim themselves, and the heavenly powers, in offering up sacred hymns?”

His treatise, Six Books on the Priesthood, is a classic manual on the priestly office and its awesome demands. The priest, he wrote, must be “dignified, but not haughty; awe-inspiring, but kind; affable in his authority; impartial, but courteous; humble, but not servile, strong but gentle …”


O God, who didst give to thy servant John Chrysostom grace eloquently to proclaim thy righteousness in the great congregation, and fearlessly to bear reproach for the honor of thy Name: Mercifully grant to all bishops and pastors such excellency in preaching, and fidelity in ministering thy Word, that thy people may be partakers with them of the glory that shall be revealed; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

O God, you gave your servant John Chrysostom grace eloquently to proclaim your righteousness in the great congregation, and fearlessly to bear reproach for the honor of your Name: Mercifully grant to all bishops and pastors such excellence in preaching, and faithfulness in ministering your Word, that your people may be partakers with them of the glory that shall be revealed; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Jeremiah 42:1–6

1 Corinthians 12:31–13:7

Luke 21:12–15

Psalm 49:1–8

Preface of a Saint (2)

Text From Holy, Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints © 2010 by The Church Pension Fund. Used by permission.

We invite your reflections about this commemoration and its suitability for the official calendar and worship of The Episcopal Church. How did this person’s life witness to the Gospel? How does this person inspire us in Christian life today?

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8 thoughts on “September 13: John Chrysostom; Bishop of Constantinople, 407

  1. Certainly John Chrysostom belongs on our calendar, both for his writing and preaching and for jis holy life amidst persecution. I have kept his fest so long on January 23 (which has been observed as his feast dfor centuries) that I question moving it to Sept. 13, bumping the traditional celebration of Cyprian of Carthage on this day. I realize you can claim a rreson for doing this, but it seems like unnecessary change for change’s sake.

    The new rading from 1 Corinthians is excellent. I would say that the change of the 1st reading from Jerimiah 1 to Jeremiah 42 was a toss-up. They are both good, and I could listen to a defence of either choice.

    • September 13 is the feast day of John Chrysostom in the Roman calendar (which commemorates Cyprian on September 16). Moving Chrysostom created space for 3 women from the New Testament, to follow the conversion of Paul on Jan 25 and the “companions of Paul” on Jan 26.

  2. New New Testament reading: This seems a nice choice.

    Bio: 1st paragraph: ‘and was ordained a presbyter.’ The use of the title ‘presbyter’ vs. priest is not consistent throughout HWHM. I just think that we should use the same words to describe the same thing – instead of switching back and forth. This, of course, applies to other titles in other contexts too.

  3. At morning prayer I was greatly surprised when, after announcing “today we commemorate Cyprian of Carthage”, I turned the page of HWHM to find John Chrysostom. Both of these holy men find their date of death falling on September 14th, Holy Cross Day, but Cyprian has precedence in both history of celebration and date of martyrdom, so it is not at all clear why the established Feast Day of Cyprian was transferred to the 15th.

    SUGGESTION — RESTORE Cyprian to September 13 and TRANSFER Chrysostom to September 15.

  4. . “The Eastern Church.” Should this be “the Eastern tradition,” or even “the early church?” No doubt, today he is, and has been, one of the great saints of the Eastern Church, but he’s one of the great saints in various ways to the “Western Church” as well.

    In the fourth and fifth centuries there were divergences of language, liturgical ways, and theological nuance, but it was still possible to speak of “THE” Christian Church, or even “THE” Catholic Church (sans modifiers) and hold together East and West for purposes of councils, doctrine, etc. The major rupture between the two didn’t happen for centuries yet to come. I would think that the major rupture is the point where “the Eastern Church” literally means “NOT the western church.” My point being we shouldn’t too easily speak of this heritage in a way that may sound like it’s “somebody else’s saint.”

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